Valentine's Day: Take It or Leave It

It's less than two weeks until Valentine's Day, and you're probably in one of three camps: you're eyes are already twinkling with expectations of the perfect, romantic evening; you're already rolling your eyes, feeling nauseous and proclaiming your hatred of googly-eyed couples; or you're jaded and don't really care how people celebrate the Hallmark holiday.

For the first group, I feel an obligation to report on various restaurant deals because, the "amateur night" label aside, some places do some pretty cool stuff. (Note that because V-Day falls on Tuesday, some restaurant deals are for the previous weekend.)

For the latter two groups, just jump to the last paragraph.

Poste Brasserie (202.783.6060) is taking the decadent route with a $75 per person caviar and chocolate menu, available only on Saturday, Feb. 11. Choose from courses including hamachi with osetra caviar, celery root salad with sturgeon roe and venison loin with bitter chocolate sauce.

Down the street at Zola (202.654.0999), loosen up with the restaurant's special Valentine's cocktail, love potion Z, made with Turi Estonia vodka, Cruzan mango rum, Cointreau, ginseng and wild cherry juice. The $55, four-course menu includes sweet potato dumplings served with Maine lobster, cinnamon caps and sage, Indian spiced lamb rib-eye over squash spaetzle and creative "vanilla Kissed" Hawaiian golden pineapple and buttermilk crepes with spiced rum glaze.

When it comes to traditional romanticism, Taberna del Alabardero (202.429.2200), with its Old World charm, is the place to go. On Valentine's Day, the Spanish restaurant will offer a six-course aphrodisiac menu for $80 per person, with winter squash-saffron soup with foie gras lardons, duck breast with apple compote and black currant sauce and strawberries marinated in red wine with "queso fresco" mousse.

At Hank's Oyster Bar (202.462.4265), get your recommended daily allowance of aphrodisiacs with a plate of oysters, as part of the restaurant's three-course, $38 menu.

You may have heard the term food porn thrown around, but did you know food could be R-rated? Dino (202.686.2966) is featuring a five-course “adults only” aphrodisiac tasting menu (21 and over preferred), priced at $150 per couple (note: price was originally posted incorrectly).

Oyamel (703.413.2288) is playing matchmaker with a dinner designed for singles with communal tables and a four-course dinner priced at $36 per person.

Primi Piatti (202.223.3600) is promising "illusions, predictions and amazing feats" performed by owner Savino Recine to add a little entertainment to your meal (perfect if you don't really like your date). A four-course, $85 per person menu includes fried oysters wrapped in coppa with truffle aioli, pasta with pear and taleggio cheese in a cream sauce, and veal tenderloin with rosemary sauce and mushrooms.

Other spots with fixed-price menus include: 1789 (five courses, $60 per person), Circle Bistro (five courses, $65), Firefly (four courses, $150 per couple), Bangkok Joe's (four courses, $49), and Notti Bianche (four courses plus a glass of sparkling wine and a basket of cookies to take home, $65).

For even more choices, check out The List's Valentine's page (subsc. required).

If staying in with your date or a group of friends is more your speed, why not recreate a restaurant meal at home? Check out DCist's Eating In recipes for ideas from local restaurants. I know I'd be smitten if someone cooked Zaytinya's hunkar begendi for me. Shake up some kir martinis, and call it a night.